Comment posted at CaSE

In response to:

The Queen’s speech: cap on migrants, science education, and Lords reform

House of Lords Reform

The Queen said that her Government will “propose Parliamentary and political reform to restore trust in democratic institutions”. It’s been speculated that these reforms might include changes to the House of Lords.

Currently, the Lords are all appointed, hereditary, or religious, and it’s been suggested that they should instead be wholly or partially elected.

Many people see one of the strengths of the current House of Lords being its wealth of scientific expertise. Lords May, Rees and Krebs are just a few examples of individuals with rich STEM backgrounds who sit in the Lords.

Peers such as these play a key role in scrutinising legislation from a scientific or engineering perspective, and it’s not clear that they would be in a position to do so if they had to run for election to the Lords.

No specific reforms have yet been announced, but CaSE will be looking at them when they are, and making the argument for retention of scientific and engineering expertise in any reformed upper chamber.

House of Lords Reform is more than speculation: We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation (The Coalition: our programme for government).

With respect, looking at the reforms when they are announced will be too late.
It is imperative that we have the debate now, make the arguments now, and demand a referendum.


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